It was a cold, rainy morning when Erik Douds and James Sanchez set out on a training run for their upcoming marathon.
They started at WeWork Studio Square in Queens, ran over to Triborough Bridge and headed south to Grand Central, Bryant Park, Times Square, and other WeWork locations in Midtown Manhattan. After skirting along the edge of Bryant Park and down through Chelsea and the Meatpacking District, they picked up Charging Bull, FiDi, and a string of WeWork spaces in Lower Manhattan.
And 19 miles later, after crossing the Brooklyn Bridge, they reached their goal of WeWork Dumbo Heights. By the end of the day, they had stopped at every WeWork location in New York.
First of all, they were training for their first marathon later this month in Copenhagen. But in choosing this unusual route, they raised awareness among other WeWork members about the causes they are most passionate about: juvenile diabetes and childhood obesity.
Douds, a WeWork Gramercy member, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was just 16. He still remembers getting the news from his doctor.
“In one moment, my life completely changed,” Douds says. “After all, it’s a disease you have to manage for the rest of your life. But I decided that I could be positive about it, or I could let it defeat me.”
Instead of feeling powerless, he decided to start the Erik Douds Pediatric Diabetes Fund. A partnership with St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey, the fund raises money for underprivileged families dealing with juvenile diabetes.
“It’s all about how you fight back,” says Douds, “how you push yourself further.”
In the video they made to chronicle their run around New York, Douds frequently checks his blood sugar to keep from falling ill.
For Sanchez, the main issue is childhood obesity. Tipping the scales at 240 pounds in 2014, he started running and eventually shed 70 pounds.
“When James and I first started training together, we ran around Prospect Park once, and he was out of breath and in pain for three days,” says Douds. “Then we did a half marathon together last year.”
The pair has established a GoFundMe page where they are raising money for their causes. They intend to make a short film about their efforts that can be shown to school children, and donate the rest to programs for juvenile diabetes.
“I’ve already reached out to companies on our floor about sponsoring our run,” Douds says. “It’s great to be a part of a community like WeWork.”